Golden Virginia-to-Gauloises Blondes maker Imperial Tobacco (IMT) puffs up 1.7% to £21.91 on reassurance it is on track to meet full-year forecasts with the help of at least £30 million of cost savings. Over the nine months to 30 June, volumes and revenues fall 7% and 3% respectively, a weaker-than-expected performance reflecting tough market conditions across the EU, notably in Spain, as well as further volume declines in Russia and the Ukraine. Nevertheless, chief executive officer Alison Cooper highlights good performances in Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East and also announces the £21 billion cap is to launch an e-cigarette style product in 2014.
International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) slips 0.9% after it placed firm orders and options for up to 220 Airbus A320 short-haul aircraft. It is understood that up to 120 of the planes for its low cost Spanish subsidiary, Vueling.
Gem Diamonds (GEMD) had already detailed its first-half performance in a trading update last month, so today's half-year results don't contain any surprises. Yet the market is troubled by the drop in earnings, despite this being old news – the shares falling 5% to 150.5p. Stockbroker Panmure Gordon says there's a better-than-expected performance on costs and a lower-than-forecast deprecation which translates into 'quite a significant difference at the bottom line'. It adds: 'We see little in today's results to alter our full year EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) forecasts, but lower depreciation could see a slight uplift to full year net profit.' Gem is our top pick in the diamond sector.
A slight drop in pre-tax profit at the half-year stage sends specialist building products distributor SIG (SHI) down 2.9% to 182.5p. Net debt is getting bigger and SIG flags concerns about construction activity in mainland Europe, despite more positive signs in the UK market.
Casino operator Rank (RNK) dips 1.6% to 158.5p as it reports a 1% drop in pre-tax profit for the year to June. While this was fully expected by analysts, the negative factor dragging the share price down is weak current trading due to the sunny UK weather.
A second half pick-up in demand is unlikely to be as robust as expected for AZ Electronic Materials (AZEM) which drops 3.2% to 307.1p. The group revealed an 11% fall in pre-tax profit to $51.9 million in the six months to 30 June. The maker of chemicals for tablets and smart phones did however manage to keep its dividend unchanged at 4¢.
Industrial fasteners maker Trifast (TRI) surges 3.8% to 57.4p as it reveals strong trading in international markets. An update for the first four and half months of its financial year running to March 2014 confirmed all of the Birmingham firm's geographic divisions are performing well.
IT refresh specialist Micro Focus (MCRO) has unveiled a 60p per share special dividend, just as Shares predicted in June. The £1.2 billion cap continues to talk up a return to modest growth after several years chasing its tail, but investors clearly see this as a time to pause for breath after the shares rallied over 15% in little more than six weeks, the stock flat today at 790p.
Fitbug (FITB:AIM), the provider of online personal health and well-being services, sprints 36.4% higher to 1.5p as the micro cap announces its entry into Asia. Seeing a huge growth opportunity in the global 'Connected Health' market, the microcap's digital health technology is to be offered in Singapore through a joint venture between Asian life-insurer AIA and South Africa-based insurer Discovery. Read more the company's strategy and growth ambitions in our leisure goods sector report from May.